A's win Game 2 thriller in walk-off fashion

10/6/13 in MLB   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Blog Photo - A's win Game 2 thriller in walk-off fashionThere's nothing like a pitchers duel in the postseason. Every at-bat, every pitch takes on great importance. That's exactly what happened Saturday night between the Tigers and Athletics in Game 2 of their ALDS. The two starting pitchers couldn't be more of a contrast in accomplishments and acclaim in the major leagues. For the Tigers, it was Justin Verlander, still considered one of the best in the game despite a down year by his standards. On the other side, it was Sonny Gray for the A's, a very promising rookie, but still a rookie making his first postseason start. Those two fought to a draw, and in the 9th, past midnight on the East Coast, another unheralded rookie became the hero for Oakland, who win 1-0 on a walk-off hit to tie up the series.

From the start, Verlander was dealing. Oakland didn't have a hit or baserunner until the 4th. Verlander's overall line says it all: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K. However, the A's did get a glimmer of a chance in the 5th. Yoenis Cespedes and Seth Smith led off the inning with singles. However, A's manager Bob Melvin made a curious decision to have Josh Reddick bunt. Reddick, as Keith Law pointed out, has 3 sacrifice bunts in his whole pro career. Reddick predictably couldn't get it done, popping out. Verlander than struck out the next two batters to end the threat. Oakland got another chance in the 7th, getting runners on 2nd and 3rd. On what would be his last pitch of the game though, Verlander reared back and fired a 98 mph fastball to strike out Stephen Vogt.

 

Despite getting no help though, Gray was matching Verlander every step of the way. He went 8 innings, also giving up just 4 hits and striking out 9. This marks the first playoff game ever where both starting pitchers threw at least 7 innings and struck out at least 9. In the 3rd, Gray struck out Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, and Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers threatened on Gray just once in the 5th inning, and that ended in this fashion.

 

The catcher is Vogt, a fellow rookie. Remember that name.

Oakland would get another chance in the 8th with Verlander gone, with runners on 1st and 2nd. However, Al Alburquerque struck the next two batters out to end the threat.

In the 9th is where Jim Leyland got himself in trouble, and unfortunately, it's a mistake almost every manager makes. In a tie game on the road, Leyland stayed in the box and kept closer Joaquin Benoit sitting in the bullpen, waiting for a save situation that was in no way guaranteed to come. Alburquerque stayed in, and it didn't go well. First Cespedes singled, then Smith did as well to put runners on the corners. Reddick was intentionally walked to load the bases. That was it for Alburquerque, who was replaced not by Benoit, despite this desperation situation for the Tigers, but Rick Porcello. The batter was Stephen Vogt, and here's what happened.

 

Thanks to their rookie battery, the A's have tied this series. Game 3 is Monday afternoon in Detroit. The Tigers fantastic rotation does not allow for a break though, as Game 3's starter is Anibal Sanchez. Oakland will counter with Jarrod Parker.
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